At the 12th Eel Lake Open Water Masters swim meet on Aug. 12, two men and one woman fought it out in the first event of the day, the 3,000-meter swim.

Pat Allender from Corvallis went head-to-head with Lee O’Conner from Beaverton and Karen Matson of Eugene. Matson is a former member of Marshfield High School’s swim team.

After swimming twice around the 1,500-meter course in 70 degree water, Allender won the 3K in 46 minutes and 28 seconds, followed by O’Conner in 46:31 and Matson in 46:42. All three were smiling broadly after the race, enjoying the competition.

In all, 27 swimmers started out in the 3K under drizzly skies

The second event of the day was a 600-meter “agility” swim, set up in the west cove of Eel Lake. Swimmers had to swim through water weeds close to the shore, run up on the sand bar in the cove, go under and over noodle barriers, and ring a cowbell after rolling through 55-degree water that comes into Eel Lake from Hall Lake.

They then dove though a hoop back into the lake and had to swim under a 20-foot noodle ladder, floating on the lake, while holding their breath. The last test was to kick through five hula hoops arranged upright before swimming to the finish. The race was won by Sue Phillips from Corvallis in 10:20, followed by Ed Ramsey from Beaverton (10:28). Jayette Pettit, like Phillips in the 50-54 age group, was just behind them in 10:32.

The last race of the day was a 1,500-meter swim, once around the course. The race was won by Pat Allender in 23:15, followed by Phillips, who finished in 24:57. One local swimmer was Victoria Earl who finished her very first open water swim event. Another notable swimmer was Kathy Murray, another former Marshfield swimmer, now in Portland, who finished fifth in her age group.

Another feature of the 1,500 is that swimmers in one section were allowed to wear any gear they wanted — swim fins, wet suits, paddles, swim buoys. The intention was to make it a fun race for people new to open water swimming. 34 swimmers completed the 1,500 with the last one finishing in 1:03.43.

Swimmers came to Eel Lake from all over Oregon, including many from Bend and Ashland. One notable came from Australia. Alison (Richards) Kay is a former swimmer and track athlete from North Bend High School who has been living and training as a triathlete in Perth, Australia.

The swimmers were watched by a Coast Guard Auxiliary boat, kayakers and a row boat. Already plans are underway for the 13th Eel Lake Open Water Swimming event to be held on Saturday, August 11, 2018.

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